Impostor Syndrome and the “You’re Not Special” Speech: Something you Might Have Missed

My apologies for having been off the grid for so long. When you’re not a trained or focused writer like me, the process of getting words on the screen is a very frenetic one. I can go weeks without a single idea and then, in the middle of a movie, think of a kernel of a story, and immediately disappear for three hours to hammer it out more fully. This isn’t conducive to healthy relationships and, since I’ve been making a very conscious and deliberate effort to value those close me, the writing has had to take a back seat for the time being. Call it wisdom, turning 40 or perhaps just being lazy about writing, but there it is.

That said, I did contribute a piece for the good people at ConstitutionalDaily.Com about Imposter Syndrome. I don’t think it was exactly what they had anticipated (I used their idea as a platform to discuss the now famous “You’re Not Special” speech), but I hope you enjoy it and, ideally, apply to your own life. Here is an excerpt (hit the link at the end to keep reading and watch the speech as well):

If you’re jaded and hateful (like me), you probably took some pleasure at him calling out the Me First generation for their entitlement and self-absorption. If you looked a bit more closely, though, you noted that he specifically points out that it is YOU who is not special, as opposed to WE. This allows for the millions of people who comprise his audience to step back and call bullshit for being unfairly cherry picked from an entire planet of narcissists (which is fair, as it’s remarkably easy to point your finger outward while not including yourself in the group). But if you looked even deeper, you recognized that this wasn’t just an opportunity to put the self-indulgent in their place. It was also a call to the self-denigrating to rise up and take a seat with the rest of the world.

Click here to finish the piece.

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5 Responses to “Impostor Syndrome and the “You’re Not Special” Speech: Something you Might Have Missed”

  1. Lisa says:

    Welcome back, Rob! While I certainly applaud both your desire to focus on relationships more than writing, and your desire to not write anything until you have something worthwhile to say, I am glad to finally be reading a post from you again.

    Thank you for bringing up the mirror-side of the “You’re Not Special” discussion: “I’m Not Worthy” (commence head-bowing and teenage boy version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”). Both the teacher’s speech and your blog should be required reading for entrance into adulthood.

    That said, I should note that I myself have indulged in the Imposter Syndrome all my life. On an intellectual level I recognize that I’m not a fraud, but my gut has always snickered at me, saying stuff like, “You’re not really smart. People are just being nice to you, telling you that you are…” And I see now that it’s just another form of narcissism. Thanks for that shot of self-awareness – I needed it.

    So, although I affirm that I’m Not Special, I also can now state with at least some degree of confidence, that I’m Not Dumb, either. Nobody is that special that the rest of the world would be kind enough to lie to them about their intellectual status. This actually is a very freeing claim to make. If I’m Not Special and I’m Not Dumb, then I can stop trying to impress others and myself and just live my life to the best of my ability, being authentic and trying to make the world, at least in some way, a better place.

    Now, stop reading comments and get back to writing!

  2. Nadia says:

    I liked that a lot.

  3. JP says:

    Rob, your blog is now fulfilling it’s karmic purpose as a “reunited first love” discussion board.

    Kind of like we turned bl1y.com into divorce chat.

  4. Clover says:

    While reading this, I realized that this happened to me once this year. Totally threw me off – even questioned my decisions.

    I’m currently training to be a counselor, and I do well at my schooling. In one of our classes, we have mock counseling sessions. Our professor will walk around the room, and also observe us. The sessions are interesting, especially when you play the part of the therapist for the first time, and you feel like a deer in headlights.

    This one particular day, I got to play the part of counselor. My friend was my ‘client’, and we had another student observe. I’d played the counselor before, and previous sessions with my friend went pretty well. This time, things were difficult. I think it was post likely because of the issue presented, but I found myself out of things to say 20min into our session. The observer we had started asking questions – good questions – and over and over, I kept thinking “Why the hell did I not think of that?” “I should’ve known to ask that.”

    I felt down for the rest of the day. It was such an ‘off’ day, that I thought about reevaluating whether I should counsel people or become a professor on the subject (something I toyed with wanting to do in conjunction with counseling before).

  5. Seviah says:

    I’m fucking trying. And, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s fucking Wellesley.

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